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Design 101: Midcentury Modern

Images from HiveModern.com
Upper L to R: Womb Chair (Eero Saarinen, 1948) Knoll, Saucer Bubble Lamp (George Kovacs, 1947) reproduced by Modernica, Multicolor Ball Clock (George Nelson, 1947) Vitra
Lower L to R: Pallas Table (Konstantin Grcic, 2003) Classicon, Cherner Metal Leg Stool (Norman Cherner, 1958) The Cherner Chair Company, Bono Sofa (Design Diplomat, UK, 2004) ArtifortImages from HiveModern.com Upper L to R: Womb Chair (Eero Saarinen, 1948) Knoll, Saucer Bubble Lamp (George Kovacs, 1947) reproduced by Modernica, Multicolor Ball Clock (George Nelson, 1947) Vitra Lower L to R: Pallas Table (Konstantin Grcic, 2003) Classicon, Cherner Metal Leg Stool (Norman Cherner, 1958) The Cherner Chair Company, Bono Sofa (Design Diplomat, UK, 2004) Artifort

The Style

Clean lines, captivating prints, and natural inspirations – a fusion of striking details and organic stylings, midcentury modern broke design barriers with its fresh take on the contemporary aesthetic.

Patterns became bolder, silhouettes sleeker, and color more captivating, while a flow of organic style seamlessly brought the outside in. This unique (and often quirky) balance created an eye-catching display that’s endured for decades.

Images from HiveModern.com
Upper L to R: Womb Chair (Eero Saarinen, 1948) Knoll, Saucer Bubble Lamp (George Kovacs, 1947) reproduced by Modernica, Multicolor Ball Clock (George Nelson, 1947) Vitra
Lower L to R: Pallas Table (Konstantin Grcic, 2003) Classicon, Cherner Metal Leg Stool (Norman Cherner, 1958) The Cherner Chair Company, Bono Sofa (Design Diplomat, UK, 2004) Artifort

The Inspiration

Midcentury modern drew elements from its style predecessors, adapting Bauhaus’ streamlined architecture, International’s asymmetrical aspects, and Arts & Crafts’ natural beauty and intricate patternings.

This intriguing blend resulted in the fusion of form and function – designers created furniture that not only caught the eye, but invited the body to enjoy ergonomic comfort and convenience.

The Timeline

True to its name, midcentury modern design rose to fame in the middle of the 20th century, hitting its true stride from the mid-1940s to 1970. Think: Mad Men and the New York advertising era.

1929 – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designs the Barcelona Chair
1941 – Jens Risom designs the Amoeba Coffee Table
1945 – Charles and Ray Eames design the Eames Lounge Chair Wood (LCW)
1946 – George Nelson designs the George Nelson Wood Bench
1947 – Isamu Noguchi designs the Noguchi Coffee Table
1948 – Eero Saarinen designs the Womb Chair for Florence Knoll
1948 – Charles and Ray Eames design the Eames Molded Plastic Rocker
1949 – Hans Wegner designs the Wishbone Chair
1952 – Harry Bertoia designs the Bertoia Diamond Chair
1956 – Charles and Ray Eames design the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
1956 – Eero Saarinen designs the Saarinen Dining Table
1956 – George Nelson designs the Marshmallow Sofa
1958 – Arne Jacobsen designs the Egg Chair for the Radisson Royal Hotel
1963 – Eero Aarnio designs the Ball Chair
1966 – Warren Platner designs the Platner Dining Table

The Icons

Eero Aarnio
Eero Aarnio

1932, Finland
Studied at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki
Iconic Designs: Ball Chair, Bubble Chair, Screw Table
Trivia: Aarnio’s Puppy Toy, an abstract child’s chair, stands at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California

Harry Bertoia
Harry Bertoia

1915-1978, Italy
Studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art
Iconic Designs: Diamond Chair, Bird Chair, Asymmetrical Chaise
Trivia: Designed wedding rings for Charles and Ray Eames

Charles & Ray Eames
Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames 1907-1978, USA
Studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art
Bernice Alexandra “Ray Eames 1912-1988, USA
Studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art
Iconic Designs: Eames Lounge Chair Wood, Eames Lounger and Ottoman, Hang-It-All
Trivia: Together, Charles and Ray created the Eames House in Los Angeles, California, which was hand-built in days with pre-fabricated steel parts.

Arne Jacobsen
Arne Jacobsen

1902-1971, Denmark
Studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
Iconic Designs: Egg Chair, Swan Chair, Series 3300 Lounge Chair
Trivia: Designed everything in the SAS Royal Hotel – from the building and furniture to the ashtrays sold in its souvenir shop.

Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

1886 – 1969, Germany
Began his career working for the interior design firms of Bruno Paul and Peter Behrens
Iconic Designs: Barcelona Chair, Brno Chair, Barcelona Table
Trivia: Known for his iconic mottos “less is more and “God is in the details

George Nelson
George Nelson

19081986, USA
Studied at Yale University
Iconic Designs: Marshmallow Sofa, Saucer Pendant Lamp, Swag Leg Dining Table
Trivia: Was the first associate editor of Architectural Forum magazine

Isamu Naguchi
Isamu Noguchi

1904 – 1988, USA
Studied at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School and Columbia University simultaneously
Iconic Designs: Marshmallow Sofa, Saucer Pendant Lamp, Swag Leg Dining Table
Trivia: Dropped out of Columbia University to pursue sculpture full-time.

Warren Platner
Warren Platner

1919-2006, USA
Studied at Cornell University
Iconic Designs: Platner Coffee Table, Platner Lounge Chair, Platner Stool
Trivia: Designed Windows on the World, the restaurant on the top two floors of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Eero Saarinen
Eero Saarinen

1910-1961, Finland
Studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere
Iconic Designs: Womb Chair, Saarinen Dining Table, Tulip Chair
Trivia: Built the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.

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